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It is believed that about 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 insects now live in our world. These are 10 quintillion of living and usually invisible creatures. There are about 900 thousand of various species alone, which is 80% of the total species diversity on Earth.
In the United States alone, 73,000 species still have to be scientifically described and accurately classified. We traditionally consider insects not the most dangerous animals on Earth, but often this view can be fatal. Indeed, some insects, although their size does not exceed the size of a finger, can be deadly.
Let's talk about the ten most famous of them, meeting with which it is better to avoid, and about the dire consequences that contact with them threatens.
Centipede (Scutigera coleoptrata). This insect, also called the flycatcher, is believed to have originated in the Mediterranean. Although other sources speak of Mexico. The centipede has become very common throughout the world. Although they are unattractive in appearance, they generally do useful work, as they eat other pests and even spiders. True, with entomophobia (fear of insects), such an argument will not help. Usually people kill them because of their unpleasant appearance, although in some southern countries, centipedes are even protected. The flycatcher is a predator, they inject poison into the victim and then kill it. Flycatchers often live in apartments without harming food or furniture. They love moisture, often centipedes can be found in basements, under baths, in toilets. Flycatchers live from 3 to 7 years, newborns have only 4 pairs of legs, increasing them by one with each new molt. Usually the bite of such an insect is not alarming for humans, although it can be comparable to a small bee sting. For some, it may even be painful, but usually it is limited to tears. Of course, centipedes are not insects that are responsible for thousands of deaths, but many of us will be surprised to learn that someone dies from these bites every year. The fact is that an allergic reaction to insect venom is possible, but this still happens extremely rarely.
Ants (Solenopsis). There are about 200 species of stinging ants in this genus, including extremely dangerous fire ants. The very name "ants" does not sound so scary, it seems that it is just an indispensable attribute of any picnic in nature. Indeed, most of these insects are harmless and insignificant in relation to the human body. However, with regard to fire ants, the situation is no longer so cloudless. And there are also many other stinging species. If an ordinary ant simply bites and injects acid into the wound, then fire ants are especially cruel. They bite only in order to gain a foothold on the body, and then with the help of a sting they bring in the toxic poison Solenopsin. A person, when bitten by such insects, experiences the same sensations as with a burn, which gave the ants their nickname. It is clear that a small number of ants will not do much harm to humans, although this is also dangerous for people with hypersensitivity. But such insects live in colonies, posing a significant threat. So in their places of residence it is strictly recommended not to walk barefoot, especially since ants attack everyone who happens to be on their territory. Although there are reports of 5% deaths from bites and subsequent anaphylactic shock, this is most likely not true. But the fact that in the USA several thousand cases of hospitalization from ant bites are annually recorded is a fact. In this case, in addition to allergic reactions, patients experience swelling, blisters, vomiting, and nausea. The scale of the problem is quite large - in the United States alone, the annual damage from these ants, including for the treatment of stung ones, amounts to $ 5 billion.
Siafu (Dorylus). These nomadic ants are mainly found in East and Central Africa, but have also been found in tropical Asia. Insects live in colonies that can number up to 20 million individuals, all of them blind. They make their travels with the help of pheromones. The colony does not have a permanent place of residence, wandering from place to place. In the course of movement to feed the larvae, insects attack all invertebrates. Among these ants there is a special group - soldiers. They can sting, for which they use their hooked jaws, and the size of such individuals reaches 13 mm. The jaws of the soldiers are so strong that in some places in Africa they are even used to secure sutures. The wound can be closed for as long as 4 days. Usually, after a Siafu bite, the consequences are minimal, you don't even need to call a doctor. True, it is believed that young and old people are especially sensitive to the bites of such ants, there have been deaths from complications after contact. As a result, annually, according to statistics, from 20 to 50 people die from these insects. This is facilitated by their aggressiveness, especially when protecting their colony, which a person can accidentally attack.
Wasps and bees. (Vespula Germanica / Apis Mellifera). It would seem that wasps and bees can be found everywhere. In warm enough weather, the presence of a flower or the smell of sweet is enough, as they are right there. And hives can be located in a completely unexpected place for a person. Almost every one of us has been bitten by a bee at least once, so we know from our own experience how painful it is. As a rule, such an unpleasant event does not require medical attention, unless you have an allergy. If there is no tendency to unexpected reactions to bee or wasp stings, then there is nothing to worry about. But in the presence of allergies, serious problems are possible. According to statistics, about 50 people die every year due to an allergic reaction of the body to the bite of such insects. The poison causes anaphylactic shock, which manifests itself in urticaria, difficulty breathing, confusion and paleness. The extreme stage is loss of consciousness, and even death. Dangerous toxic reactions from bites in the head, blood vessel and mouth. A swallowed bee can cause swelling of the pharynx and death by suffocation. It is useful to know that if you are bitten by a bee, you should not kill it immediately. Firstly, it will die without a sting (unlike a wasp, which can sting several times), and secondly, a killed bee will release a special chemical into the air, which will be an alarm signal for its other relatives.
Asian giant bumblebee (Vespa mandarinia). Many of us have seen bumblebees, they seem rather small, and there is little reason to be afraid of them. Now imagine a bumblebee growing up as if on steroids, or just look at an Asian giant. These hornets are the largest in the world - they can be up to 5 cm long and have a wingspan of 7.5 cm. The length of the sting in such insects can be up to 6 mm, but neither a bee nor a wasp can compare with such a bite, bumblebees, moreover, can sting many times. You cannot find such dangerous insects in Europe or the United States, but when traveling through East Asia and the mountains of Japan, you can meet them. To understand the consequences of a bite, it is enough to listen to eyewitnesses. They compare the sensation of a bumblebee sting to a hot nail driven into the leg. The sting venom has 8 different compounds that cause discomfort by damaging soft tissues and creating an odor that can attract new bumblebees to the victim. People who are allergic to bees can die from the reaction, but there have been deaths due to mandorotoxin poison, which can be dangerous if it gets deep enough into the body. It is believed that about 70 people die from such bites every year. Curiously, the sting is not their main hunting weapon - bumblebees crush their enemies with large jaws.
African honey bee (hybrid Apis Mellifera scutellata). Most of us have dealt with normal bees in our gardens, but if you came into contact with African honey bees, you would definitely get in some trouble. This insect is very aggressive, moreover, the African breed is distinguished by its ability to sting repeatedly. There are no pronounced jags in the sting; the bee easily removes it from the victim's body. The danger is also caused by the fact that these insects live in large families of up to 100 thousand individuals. So there is always the possibility of an attack by several angry insects at once. Although the bee venom is not very dangerous, the sting contains only 0.3 mg, it is similar in properties to the venom of a number of snakes. The danger in the case of the African bee is the ability of one individual to make several bites and attacks from a whole swarm in general. In 1956, the bees were brought to Brazil to improve the breed. However, most of the bees quickly became feral, their swarms reached Central America and even the southwestern United States. The danger of a swarm of bees is quite high, it is believed that it can even knock a horse down. On account of aggressive African bees already more than 1000 human victims, in Brazil alone in 1982, 58 people died.
Kissing bug (Triatomines). This insect was first discovered in the 19th century by Charles Darwin himself. In total, there are 138 known species of these insects, which mainly feed on the blood of vertebrates. They are found mainly in South and North America, but some species are scattered throughout Asia, Australia and Africa. It is believed that all species of this beetle are able to carry and transmit the Trypanosoma cruzi infection, which can be fatal to humans. This effect was first discovered in 1909 in Brazil by the physician Carlos Chagas. He found that insects bite the poor at night, which then cause the disease later named after him. A potentially deadly insect in 5% of cases generally lives either in a person's house or in the immediate vicinity of it. At night they are attracted by the warmth of a person and the carbon dioxide of his breath. Usually, the spread of this insect is facilitated by the untidiness of the human dwelling, where traces of insect feces and eggs can remain. It is believed that about 50 thousand people die from the bites of such beetles every year. Indeed, as a result, Chagas disease can develop with a fatal outcome. At first, the bite site simply swells, then the infection penetrates the intestines and heart. Most deaths from Chagas disease are associated with cardiomyopathy.
Tsetse fly (Glossina morsitans). Flies are annoying on their own, just imagine that they can also suck blood from animals and humans. The tsetse fly lives in tropical and subtropical Africa, having chosen the Kalahari and Sahara deserts. Flies are carriers of trypanosomiasis, which cause sleeping sickness in animals and humans. Tsetse are anatomically very similar to their normal relatives - they can be distinguished by the proboscis on the front of the head and the special manner of folding the wings. It is the proboscis that allows you to get the main food - the blood of wild mammals in Africa. On this continent, there are 21 species of such flies, which in their length can reach from 9 to 14 mm. Flies should not be considered so harmless for humans, because they really kill people, doing it quite often. It is believed that in Africa, up to 500 thousand people are now infected with sleeping sickness, carried by this particular insect. The disease disrupts the activity of the endocrine and cardiac systems. The nervous system is then affected, causing confusion and sleep disturbance. Attacks of fatigue give way to hyperactivity. The last major epidemic was recorded in Uganda in 2008, in general, the disease belongs to the list of forgotten in the WHO. However, in Uganda alone, 200,000 people have died from sleeping sickness over the past 6 years. The disease is believed to be largely responsible for the deteriorating economic situation in Africa. It is curious that flies attack any warm object, even a car, but they do not attack a zebra, considering it only a flickering of stripes. The tsetse flies have also saved Africa from soil erosion and overgrazing caused by cattle. Man came up with different methods of dealing with these insects. In the 1930s, all wild pigs were exterminated on the west coast, but this gave a result only for 20 years. Now they are fighting by shooting wild animals, cutting down bushes and treating male flies with radiation in order to deprive them of the opportunity to breed.
Rat fleas (Xenopsylla cheopis). Fleas are usually tiny insects that live on a cat or dog and cause itching. Fleas are typically 1/16 to 1/8 inch long, have a green body, and a mouth structure to suck blood. The insect's body is built to leap long distances. A flea bite is accompanied by a red mark and itching, both in humans and in a pet. It is during it that pathogens are transmitted. Although there are different types of fleas on cats and dogs, the most dangerous are those found on rats. These animals themselves are scary, and being infected with fleas, they become even more scary and make you avoid them in every possible way. Even though the fleas themselves are small, they can carry microbes and serious diseases. The most famous of these is the Yersinia Pestis bacteria. It was she who caused the Black Plague in Europe in the XIV century, destroying up to half of the population of Europe. The number of victims was in the tens of millions! The spread of diseases was facilitated by rats traveling on merchant ships due to the lack of proper sanitization of ships. The first case was recorded in 1347, when a ship arrived in France brought many dying sailors and passengers. Each ship was inhabited by rats, which, upon arrival at the port, mingled with their local relatives. Those passed on plague fleas that infect new hosts. When the ship rats began to die, the fleas began to drink the blood of the sailors. Europe's dirty and overcrowded ports have become an excellent place for the spread of the disease. Then the plague was not completely destroyed, it returned and returned, claiming numerous lives. So, at the end of the 19th century, a new epidemic in India alone killed 6 million people. Today, these bacteria in most European countries and in the United States die extremely rarely, but for the third world countries, the danger still exists.
Malaria mosquito (Anopheles quadrimaculatus). As soon as the temperature outside gets above 10 degrees, we can see these annoying insects. They are most active at sunset. Only females bite a man, but at the same time, dangerous diseases are transmitted by many types of mosquitoes. There are about 400 such species in total, and studies have shown that they carry diseases such as yellow fever, encephalitis, and even canine heartworms. These insects themselves are usually tied to water bodies where egg laying and larval growth take place. Mosquitoes have bitten each of us, we all know what their bite marks look like. This is a red dot that swells slightly and itches a lot. Usually there is no big trouble from this, but often a bite can lead to a dangerous illness and even death. One of the best known mosquito-borne diseases is malaria. A mosquito becomes infected with Plasmodium from a human carrier or a sick person. The malaria virus in the insect's body goes through a full cycle of sexual reproduction. Already 4-10 after infection, the mosquito itself becomes a source of malaria, being such for up to one and a half months. In tropical countries, such epidemics are very common. About 350-500 million cases are observed annually, with up to 3 million deaths from malaria each year. Malaria is believed to have affected at least 10% of the world's population.The highest mortality rate is observed in African countries, where there is practically no fight against malaria, it is on this continent that 90% of all patients are located. The main means of mosquito control is draining swamps and improving sanitation. So, in the United States in 2002, only about 1000 cases of the disease and 8 deaths were registered.